1 Corinthians 4:1-7:40
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Allright... so Paul has a little bit of scolding for the church in Corinth in our readings today! Perhaps we would do well to listen to some of this scolding today too? Verse 5 is powerful for us to consider: "So be careful not to jump to conclusions before the Lord returns as to whether or not someone is faithful. When the Lord comes, he will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. And then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due." I think far too often we ourselves try to judge others - saying that someone is wholly righteous or that someone is a doomed sinner. Neither this excessive praise nor condemnation is ours to give. It is only for God. God is the judge. We are not. So be careful not to jump to conclusions about someone else...
If you blinked, you just might have missed verse 20 today - "For the Kingdom of God is not just fancy talk; it is living by God's power." Great stuff! I am afraid that sometimes we do indeed reduce the Kingdom of God and living out our faith to just fancy talk. We sometimes talk a lot, but we do not practice what we preach. Rather than focusing on our fancy talk, how about if we simply live by God's power? It's a revolutionary idea! :)
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Corinthians titled "Follow the Leader" is at this link.
Wow... there is a lot going on in Paul's words in First Corinthians chapter 5 today. The first half of verse 6 stands out: "How terrible that you should boast about your spirituality, and yet you let this sort of thing go on." This is such a trap I think for many of us - boasting about our spirituality. It is a very dangerous trap too. Why do you suppose Paul would say this is a terrible thing to boast about your spirituality? I think it is because when you boast about your spirituality, you have lost humility and you have in a sense put yourself in the place of God. You've elevated yourself too high. And Jesus says we are to be humble. Here comes a tangent - :) - I was listening to talk radio recently and I heard some guy talking about Kabala - the Jewish mysticism religion that is very popular these days - particularly with some Hollywood celebrities. Well, I won't say that this guy was boasting about his spirituality... but maybe he was. :) The great thing I thought was then a guy studying to be a rabbi called in and basically went off on this guy. The caller said that this guy was far too confident and boastful in his discussions of who God is and how God works. And the caller said that he had studied the Torah for all of his life and he still considered himself only a student. I wish I could remember his exact words - but he said something along the lines that "one will always be a student of the Torah. Never it's master." Something like that. I loved it! It was so humble and true. And I think you and I would do well to realize that we will always be students of the Bible - never its master. And we need to realize how terrible it truly is for us to boast about our spirituality in any way - either publicly or in our own minds. As this image says below, "Boast only in the cross." Amen...
The second half of verse 6 is powerful for us to consider as well - "Don't you realize that if even one person is allowed to go on sinning, soon all will be affected?" This is so true. Sin is an infection that will infect others. Or, another way to look at this - when we sin we are affecting / infecting others. Nobody sins in a vacuum. It affects the whole community. It affects everyone you know in some way. Paul goes on later in this chapter to say in verse 12 - "It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your job to judge those inside the church who are sinning in these ways." Paul really has what will appear to our modern ears to be some strong / harsh words for Christians who sin in the ways listed in verse 11 - "What I meant was that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a Christian yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler." I think there is truth in his words - but we need to walk a fine line. There are people who are Christian who do struggle with sin - sin that indeed will infect / affect others. And I think we are absolutely called to speak the truth in love into those Christians lives to point out their sin and encourage them to repentance. But... I think there does come a point where we may have to realize that someone simply will not or does not want to repent of their sin. And then it may be time to prayerfully follow Paul's words about avoiding and removing that type of person from your church. I don't know - let me know what you think? How / when do we draw the line of speaking the truth in love to a Christian stuck in sin? And when do we avoid and/or remove them from our churches? Is this too harsh? Are Paul's word's too harsh? Even if they are harsh, are they true?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Corinthians titled "Church Discipline: Taking Sin Seriously" is at this link.
Today in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 we will read: "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside their body, but you who sins sexually sins against your own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." These are powerful verses. And verses that seem to fly in the face of much of what we are sold in today's culture. Reflect on these verses. Do you believe that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? Do you believe that you are not your own? Do you realize that you were bought at a price by Jesus on the cross? If you see sexual immorality heading your way, do you flee from it? Will you flee from it? What are the consequences if you do not flee from sexual immorality? Do you believe that sexual immorality is a sin you commit against your very own body? (self-abuse, if you will – though, I strongly believe others around you suffer from this sin against your own body as well. Nobody sins in a vacuum. It affects everyone we interact with. It affects everyone in our community. Think that sin is a selfish act?) Do you realize that when you sin sexually, you are sinning against a temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells? Will you flee from sexual immorality? Please - literally - flee from it.
Today we read 1 Corinthians Chapter 7. This has been a very powerful chapter of the Bible for much of my spiritual journey. For a period of about 7 years I felt the call to "singleness" through this chapter through much prayer and reflection. I think the call to singleness for some of us may be just for a season, or it could be for many seasons. At the same time, just as valuable is the call to marriage and family life for many of us in this chapter as well. These are some powerful verses. Some say it is best just to consider these verses in "context" of the Corinthian church two thousand years ago. However, I do believe there is value in this chapter's verses for our lives as well. How does First Corinthians chapter 7 speak to you and your life today?
First Corinthians chapter 7 verses 32 through 34 are intriguing words from Paul: "An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord's work and thinking how to please him. But a married man can't do that so well. He has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided." I see his logic of these words - and these words have often rung so very true in my own life. But, I also see the blessing of the family. Of marriage. Of being part of a Holy Family. Obviously each of us came into this world because of the union of a woman and man. There are a billion reasons of why marriage is important - why the family is important. It produces people like us! :) Unfortunately in our world today I am afraid the concept of the "Holy Family" is not so strong. Family can turn into a negative word for many people, instead of the holy word it should be. All this to say - I believe many of us are called to family life - to marriage and to kids. But I also believe that many of us are called to singleness. I really do. And I do believe being called to singleness is truly a blessing - just as being called to marriage is a blessing as well. Have you spent much time in your life discerning whether God has called you to singleness or to marriage? I think it's worth reflecting upon periodically - but not to stress out about. It's better to ultimately remember Paul's words in verses 29 through 33: "The time that remains is very short, so husbands should not let marriage be their major concern. Happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God's work. Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away. In everything you do, I want you to be free from the concerns of this life." Whether you are single or married, do you believe these preceding verses are true for you? What does it mean to you that "the time that remains is very short"? How might this affect how you live your life?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Corinthians titled "Undistracted Devotion" is at this link.
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Corinthians titled "Sex and the Spiritual Christian" is at this link, "The Relationship Between Spirituality and Sexuality" is at this link, and "Spirituality and the Status Quo" is at this link.
Worship God: Today's readings reminded me of Michael W. Smith's song "Open The Eyes Of My Heart:"
Has God opened the eyes of your heart? Click here to have your eyes opened!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture this week: "But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with any who claim to be fellow believers but are sexually immoral or greedy, idolaters or slanderers, drunkards or swindlers. With such persons do not even eat." 1 Corinthians 5:11 TNIV
Prayer Point: Pray for those in your church who claim to be believers, but who are sexually immoral, greedy, idolaters, slanderers, drunkards or swindlers. Pray for their repentance and restoration to the fellowship. Pray for church discipline, if necessary. Pray you won't ever be lead astray by those living in sin.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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